AUSTIN (Nexstar) — More than 4,000 medical providers have signed up with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to administer COVID-19 vaccines once an immunization receives approval.
According to DSHS, more than 4,100 healthcare providers in more than 225 Texas counties enrolled with the state as a COVID-19 vaccine provider, and an additional 2,500 Texas locations of national pharmacy chains enrolled directly with the federal government.
“Providers include medical practices, pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, health centers, health departments, correctional facilities and others,” DSHS spokesperson Lara Anton said.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday Texas would get an initial allotment of 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC. Abbott’s spokesperson confirmed the shipments would allow for initial doses for 1.4 million people.
The initial round of shipments includes doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, under the assumption that both would earn federal approval, the governor’s spokesperson said.
According to DSHS, the first doses will be sent to larger healthcare facilities that can vaccinate the most healthcare workers in the shortest amount of time.
“All of the enrolled providers will have the opportunity to order vaccine in the spring once the supply increases,” Anton added.
Vaccine shipments will be sent directly to providers along with the associated supplies.
“Each vaccine recipient will receive a card with information about the vaccine they received,” Anton explained, “and doses administered will be recorded in ImmTrac2, the state immunization registry, so that providers and recipients can ensure they receive the correct second dose.”
Dr. David Lakey, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at the University of Texas System and member of the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel Member, said the allotment factored the severity of the virus coupled with the population.
“We are going to need more down the line, but it gets us moving down that path of securing the healthcare system here in Texas,” Lakey, a former DSHS commissioner, said.
According to estimates by DSHS in the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Plan published mid-October, Texas has an estimated 639,000 healthcare personnel, 66,000 EMS workers, 327,000 acute care hospital employees, 138,000 nursing home residents, nearly 4 million adults 65 and older and almost 9.5 million adults with a high-risk medical condition.
“We do hope that as many nurses as possible will take the opportunity to get the vaccine,” Texas Nurses Association director of practice, Serena Bumpus, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, said. “So we can begin… the process of protecting our frontline healthcare workers against COVID-19 and serve as role models in the community.”
“Nurses will also play a very critical role in the administration of the vaccine as it becomes available,” Bumpus said.
State emergency management officials leading the COVID-19 testing effort in Texas indicated vaccine distribution would not have a major impact on testing capabilities.